Advertising in the Modern Age

A look at the change of advertising through the years.

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The Growth of Advertisement

Advertising has changed and developed over the years. Whether it was word of mouth salesmen, Don Draper, or social media ads, there have been key periods of time which have led us to where we are today and have become almost a reflection of society itself at each time and age.

The importance of advertising cannot be undersold for companies. The ability to push out ideas and products into the open marketplace is what helps keep our businesses going and is sometimes more of the sales work than actually making the product.

But as I stated before, the world of advertisement has undergone slow change. Let’s see how it got to where it is today.


Earliest Advertising

Speaking of advertising in America, the earliest forms start around the time of the American Revolution. At this time, local politicians and businessmen alike were looking to move the American public to fight back against the crown.

To do so, they were placing papers around town such as this:

Advertising 1

What these advertisements show is a simplistic way of convincing people to do things. And in large part this is all that advertising does. By definition, advertising is:

“the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.”

This should help us really define what it means to advertise. For the people at this time, advertising was meant to help grow interest and attention to the war for freedom. But not all advertising was so dark at this time.

People might stand out and speak for hours on a new product, continually announcing their products. making every little connection with the people they considered customers. This face to face connection between producer and consumer is something that has really evolved today, but we will discuss that later.

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Don Draper

If you haven’t seen it, I personally suggest you do. The show Madmen is set in 1960’s America, where Don Draper is the head ad man working to keep creative idea flowing for his customers.

Aside from being a good show, Mad Men shows us the ins and outs of 1960s advertising. What were the goals? How did they achieve them?

Where in the 1700-1800s, Americans spent time reading ads from boards or posts around town, what Don Draper was working towards was ads in newspapers, billboards, and magazines. Being an ad man was such a crucial job because advertising helped to encourage most spending during that time.

Think about it, we’ve all seen the old time ads like this one:

This ad is a great example of what people looked for in the 1960s. I always think of the 60s as a faux future because so much of what they were doing was meant to be cutting edge or space age, but it is all very much outdated and irrelevant today.

But it was the emotions and values that people were looking for. The desire to be at the forefront of society. And ad men could tell you how to do it. Ad men in the 60’s were capable of informing you on what was “in” for society, allowing you to stay current, to stay “cool”.

And this is why they were so popular at this time. When all people worry about is being current with their style or technology, they will do anything to stay there, which may include listening to people like Don Draper.

But what this industry gained in society standards, they lost in personal communication. While people might say that the birth of technology has killed our ability to communicate in a personal settings, I would argue that people began to lose this ability in the 60s through this advertising style.

Because rather than focusing on making a personal connection with their consumers, these advertisers and company focused on telling us what to do with words and pictures on a page. And how much different is that than an advertisement on Twitter? It might not be electronic advertising, but it was certainly a precursor to what we see today.

Advertising 7

21st Century Ads

This is such a broad subject area. 21st century advertising has become guerrilla advertising. The ability to reach more and more people through social media and ad pushing companies has made it easier to mass advertise products or events.

And they have become more prevalent in the social media industry as a whole.

I’m sure we have all seen the ads on Facebook or Twitter or even Snap chat. These paid for ads help keep these companies afloat. Because no one is paying for Twitter or Facebook.

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The paid for aids on social networking have become a constant in our lives. And who hasn’t been stopped by a video ad on youtube. The abundance of ways in which companies can now interact with you makes it easier and easier to get brands out for people to see. And not only do companies send messages to their customers, but they are now better able to receive and respond to content from customers online.

There is no better example of this than the way in which fast food companies use twitter accounts. I’m sure we have all probably noticed these interactions, but here are a few examples:

These show that not only can you get your company name out, but you can form a loyal customer base from personal interactions online. And with the use of verification on twitter accounts, getting a tweet from a verified company can seem like you are talking directly to the entire company, which in a way you definitely are.


In Summary

The way in which companies connect and grow their business has changed drastically. From the paper and word of mouth, to the newspaper ads and all the way into the 21st century online ads, companies will continue looking for newer and more exciting ways to maintain a personal connection with their followers.